This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Conduct which might amount to duress if the mind of the person against whom it is directed were affected thereby is not duress if it does not affect the mind of such person. Thus threats which might amount to duress, if they were effective, will not constitute duress if they do not influence the conduct of the person against whom they are directed,1 as where he executes such instrument deliberately on advice of counsel2 or of friend,3 or enters into the contract for other reasons than the threats, acting on the advice of his friends,4 or after such delay as gives full time to decide with deliberation;5 as where a father-in-law gave notes and a deed to settle a claim of embezzlement against his son-in-law after trying to obtain a compromise, and after an agreement with his daughter that the amount thus paid should be considered an advancement to her.6 If the parties are dealing at arm's length suggestion, advice or persuasion do not amount to duress.7 Whatever the effect of mere persuasion may be, as undue influence, it can not amount to duress.1 The threat of a husband to abandon his wife is not duress where the wife testifies that she did not know whether she was afraid that he would leave her or not.9 If A has made an oral contract with B, which is free from duress, the fact that such contract is reduced to writing and signed when A's life is threatened by strikers, and B refuses to take the risk of continuing in A's employment unless the two-year contract were signed, does not render such contract voidable.10 A person in his right mind and in full control of his faculties, who understands what he is doing and who has full power to enter into a legal transaction or to refuse to do so, does not act under duress if he enters into such transaction.11 It has been held that the violence or threat relied on must be the sole cause of the conduct sought to be avoided to constitute duress. If fraud is shown to have caused such conduct in part, duress does not exist.12
8Thompson v. Niggley, 53 Kan. 664, 26 L. R. A. 803, 35 Pac. 290.
9 Baldwin v. Hutchinson, 8 Ind. App. 454, 35 N. £. 711; James v. Roberts, 18 Ohio 548.
10Wilbur v. Blanchard, 22 Ida. 517, 126 Pac. 1069.
1 California. Phelan v. De Martin, 85 Cal. 365, 24 Pac. 725.
Georgia. Dorsey v. Bryans, 143 Oa. 186, 84 S. E. 467.
Illinois. Baldwin v. Murphy, 82 111. 485; Rendleman v. Rendleman, 156 111. 568, 41 N. E. 223; Paige v. Hierony-mus, 192 111. 546, 61 N. E. 832.
Iowa. Hamilton v. Smith, 57 la. 15, 42 Am. Rep. 39, 10 N. W. 276.
Michigan. Barger v. Farnham, 130 Mich. 487, 90 N. W. 281; Ruel v. Wash-burne, - Mich. - , 171 N. W. 378.
Missouri. Wood v. Kansas City Home Telephone Co., 223 Mo. 537, 123 S. W. 6; Meredith v. Meredith, 79 Mo. App. 636.
New York. Dunham v. Griswold, 100 N. Y. 224, 3 N. E. 76.
2 Phelan v. De Martin, 85 Cal. 365, 24 Pac. 725.
3Rendleman v.. Rendleman, 156 111. 568, 41 N. E. 223.
4Wolff v. Bluhm, 95 Wis. 257, 60 Am. St. Rep. 115,70 N. W. 73.
5 Barger v. Farnham, 130 Mich. 487, 90 N. W. 281.
6 Loud v. Hamilton (Tenn Ch. App.), 45 L. R. A. 400, 51 S. W. 140.
7 Clement v. Buckley Mercantile Co., 172 Mich. 243, 137 N. W. 657; Dallavo v. Dallavo, 189 Mich. 350, 155 N. W. 538.
If the duress does not cause a substantial change in the legal position of the party who is subjected thereto, it is inoperative.13 If a party is induced by duress to give notes for a valid pre-existing liability, such duress is not a defense to such notes.14